Home certainly is where the "heart" is, but your backyard should be your true oasis. Some people may add a new lawn, or perhaps some flowers, or maybe even a pool and hot tub if they are really being extravagant. But almost any home owner can agree that a brand new brick patio would be a gorgeous addition to their home (can't you just envision the great summer barbeques to be had on that patio?).
Now, I know a lot of home owners who TRY to undertake such a task themselves. These are usually the same owners who try to start some basement project, only to have bought the tools for the project but to never have done much or ANY work. I cannot say that I blame them; do you want to spend your well-earned weekends sweating away, doing hard, laborious work? If not, then you may want to consider hiring a masonry contractor to do the job. Just think about it: a new patio without having to do any back breaking labor, without having to stress out about whether or not you made a mistake... it is well worth the money you put in.
So just how can you locate a masonry contractor? Perhaps one of the most efficient ways is using the internet. Within seconds you can run an Internet search using one of many search engines, and narrow down which masonry contractors are nearby. You can also take out the Yellow Pages and start calling around.
Perhaps one of the best ways to find a masonry contractor is to use professional referrals from OTHER contractors, friends, and family. If they are referring a contractor, you know that they must do a good job and are trustworthy. You can also seek out referrals from lumber yards or hardware stores - they are certainly "in the know" when it comes to these types of things.
Once you have found a couple of masonry pros in your area, be sure not to choose the first one you see! It is important to "interview" any contractors of interest, and provide them with the specifications of your project and your budget. Some questions you may want to ask are:
- Are you a certified, insured, bonded and licensed masonry contractor in this area?
- What training have you had in this field?
- How long have you been doing the job? What is your experience?
- Are you self employed?
- Do you employ others to work alongside you? If so, how many?
- Has there been a time in which your license was taken away? If so, why and in which State?
Be sure that you receive responses to these questions that you feel safe and assured with; remember, there are plenty of contractors out there, so you should never feel as if you are stuck with the first one you interview.
Once a contractor has answered the questions above to your satisfaction, you can ask for some further information on the actual project at hand, like:
- How much do you estimate this will cost?
- How long will it take for the project to be completed?
- Do you have a clean-up policy? Am I responsible for the removal of rubbish or are you?
- Do you throw left over materials out? Recycle?
NOTE: Many home owners become upset when the cost of the project exceeds the initial estimated cost, but remember that the estimation is exactly that: an ESTIMATION. These can be off by up to 20%, either in savings or expenditures. Keep in mind that contractors do not know exactly what the materials around your home are (they may have to do more work tearing up the driveway, for example) or they do not know exactly how long it will take concrete to dry to continue on with the project on certain days.
On that note, if the costs exceed 20%, it is definitely time to ask some hard questions. This only happens with a very small percentage of estimates, so do not abandon your project dreams because you fear being "ripped off". Most masons will certainly do an excellent job for an excellent price in the right amount of time.